The Banana Republic credit card is a solid option for frequent shoppers looking to earn points, but like many store brand cards, it’s not without it’s pitfalls. You may be wondering: what are the pros and cons of the Banana Republic credit card? Do I have to be a frequent shopper at Banana Republic to reap any benefits? What do users say about this card, and how does it stack up against similar cards? Is this card right for me?
In this post, we’ll answer all these questions and more, doing an in-depth review of the Banana Republic credit card so you can make a fully informed decision about whether or not to apply.
What Is the Banana Republic Credit Card?
First, let’s discuss the basics. Banana Republic is one of the brands under the Gap, Inc. umbrella, which also includes The Gap, Old Navy, and Athleta.
There are technically two Banana Republic cards: the Bananacard and the Banana Republic Visa Card. When you sign up, depending on your credit, you'll be given one of them.
If you have poor to limited credit, you’ll be given the Bananacard. The Bananacard is a basic store card. A store card works like a credit card except it can only be used at the brand or umbrella brands that issues it. It won’t work if you try to use it to purchase anything anywhere else. So the Bananacard can only be used in-store or at any of the other Gap Inc. brands.
If you have good credit, you’ll be given the the Banana Republic card. The Banana Republic card is an actual Visa credit card, so it can be used at any of those stores but also be anywhere else Visa is accepted. It’s a chip card with standard fraud protection services, and the primary cardholder can add an authorized user.
Regardless of the card you get, you will receive 20% off your first purchase at any Gap, Inc. store by signing up.
In this post, we will focus on the Banana Republic Visa card and its upgrade, the Banana Republic Luxe card.
If you love to shop at BR, this could be a great card for you—but there are a few caveats!
What Are the Banana Republic Credit Card Features and Rewards?
As stated above, when you open a Banana Republic Visa credit card, you will receive a 20% discount off the first purchase made with that card at a Gap-branded store.
Beyond that, each purchase made by the credit card earns points. Cardholders receive:
- 3,000 bonus points (worth $30) when you make your first purchase outside the Gap, Inc. brands
- five points for every $1 spent at any Gap, Inc. brand, and
- one point for every $1 spent elsewhere.
- no annual fee for the card
These points can be used on purchases made both online and in person. If you don’t use the points during the billing cycle you earn them in, they are rolled over into the next cycle for up to two years before they expire.
In addition to points, cardholders also receive:
- access to exclusive sales and events throughout the year at Banana Republic and their factory stores
- birthday coupons
- every Tuesday, 10% off at every affiliated store except Banana Republic
Signing up for email account updates will get you 500 bonus points, and opting in for paperless statements gets you another 500, for a fairly easy $10 back.
One big benefit of the Banana Republic Visa card is the lack of an annual fee.
The Banana Republic Luxe Upgrade
If the cardholder meets certain criteria, they can upgrade to the Banana Republic Luxe card. These criteria are that the cardholder:
- must earn 5,000 reward points annually, ie, spend $1,000 or more with it per year,
- must keep the account in good standing, and
- must make the minimum payments due.
Luxe Upgrade Benefits
The Luxe card offers some additional benefits that the regular visa doesn’t, including:
- a quarterly bonus of 20% of the points earned that quarter (a three-month period, so four times a year),
- once per quarter, a choose-your-own-sale day in which triple the regular points (15 points per dollar spent or 15% back) are awarded,
- free three-to-five-day shipping of online purchases at any of the Gap, Inc. brands, and
- unlimited alterations of Banana Republic merchandise.
You have to use your Banana Republic Luxe card at least once per year at a Gap, Inc. store to maintain Luxe status.
There is no annual fee on the Luxe card either.
Free shipping is a great perk of the Luxe card for online shoppers!
What are the Downsides of the Banana Republic Visa Card?
The Banana Republic Visa card does have several drawbacks.
The biggest downside is that, like most store credit cards, there is a very high interest rate charged on Banana Republic Visa cards, and there’s no reduced rates initially. They have a 25.24% APR, which is actually even higher than the 23.88% average for store credit cards. This means that you absolutely shouldn’t hold a balance from month to month: you should pay off your balance in full each month to avoid very high fees.
Secondly, it should be noted that the points do expire after twenty-four months. You also can’t redeem more than 25,000 points (up to $250) in a single billing period or more than three rewards earnings on any one purchase. Together, these limitations make it necessary to redeem your points very regularly in the small amounts allowed in order to maximize your benefits. They do this because this encourages more frequent shopping on your part!
Moreover, there is a 3% foreign transaction fee, so this card would not be a good choice to use abroad.
Another thing to consider is that some of the promotions and coupons that cardholders receive get “leaked” online, so you can search for, find, and use the codes pretty easily via sites like Retailmenot.
Finally, the card is issued by Synchrony Financial, and customer reviews for Synchrony aren’t that great. Many cardholders report confusing contract terms, slow response times when fixing statement inaccuracies, and bad customer service. However, it’s hard to find good reviews of any consumer financial services company, so take this with a grain of salt.
Lots of people open store cards around the holidays to try and save money on gifts!
The Bottom Line: Is the Banana Republic Card For Me?
If you are a frequent or even a semi-frequent shopper at Banana Republic, Gap, Old Navy, Athleta, or any of the Gap, Inc. brands, this card has a very competitive rewards structure and would be a good choice for you. The 5% cash-back on all of their many brands combined with the lack of annual fee make it good for shoppers looking to save money. Plus, the free shipping and alterations for Luxe cardholders are an excellent perk.
Families with children and parents who frequently the many Gap, Inc. brands will find this card especially helpful.
However, you need to be able to pay the full balance on the statement every month. Otherwise, with its extremely high APR, it will become more expensive than it’s worth.
If you rarely shop at Banana Republic, Gap, Old Navy, Athleta, or any of the Gap, Inc. brands, this card isn’t for you. The 1% points deal on all other purchases is only about average for a credit card, and you should be able to get better deals depending on where your money does go.
Note that most retailer cards also have a high interest rate and no annual fee, so these perks won’t help you decide between store cards. But if you don’t shop at Gap, Inc. brands or any other one store or company that often, it’s a better idea to go for a more general credit card anyway, which often offer better financing options for those who need to carry a balance—especially considering that the "point" reward system will not be useful to you, since it's different from cash back.
If you're thinking about getting the Gap visa card instead, note that the two cards are almost identical in terms of costs and benefits (very literally—the Gap card has the exact same rewards structure and it also applies to all Gap, Inc. brands). The only exception being on the first Tuesday of every month, Gap cardholders get 10% off at Gap.com and in Gap stores.
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Jess Hendel is an academic advisor, test prep tutor, and content writer. A graduate of Amherst College, she has several years of experience writing content and designing curricula for the top e-learning organizations. She is passionate about leveraging new media and technology to help students around the world achieve their potential.